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ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Saturday, April 23, 2011



The Basin:

The Governor condemned the Man to die,
Then plunged his patrician hands into
My rosewater and ringed me with filth.
My sheen caught blue eyes of compassion,
And suddenly I became whole again;
A crack long unnoticed healed.
I didn’t get to wash the holy face.

The Pillar:

Had he been Samson I would have fallen.
He was stronger than my stubbornness.
I held him fast for twenty lashes or more.
When at the ninth hour he died, the earth shook,
And I shuddered, I with his meaning, alone,
But standing, his ropes around me still.
Binding me with his love.

The Thorn:

In my clumsiness I dropped to the ground,
And his right foot fell on me when he made
His way. I embedded myself deeply into his sole.
I helped carry the world and heaven on his shoulder.
He carried me well. Torturer forgiven and blessed,
One with the nail hammered to his feet,
I blossomed with the rose of his blood.

The Street:

The crowd soiled me with sweat and spittle.
I smelled their eczema and rotten sandals.
His cross grooved my back but spared me pain,
As I led him to the Skull. Ah, but I was
A ribbon of winding light before he died,
Before he rose to a full moon, a dazzling sun.
I am the way to his truth and his life.

The Dice:

My self divided into two in cupped hands,
Shaken crazy. They rolled out my numbers.
One won a seamless robe. Did Chance leave me,
Ivory in dust, everything over? With seven eyes
I gazed at his face and wondered if he had won,
Accomplished anything in life. Was I just lucky?
Was I part of a great cosmic design under his cross?

The Rock:

Grave men and an ox forced me to seal his
Borrowed tomb. Then all was pitch darkness
Inside and out, and I died. But on the 3rd day
He flashed through, violent silence, breaking,
Waking the night of olive trees and flowers
And transforming me into a risen sun.
To angels and humans I said, He is not here!


Francisco R. Albano is a notable Philippine poet whose work has influenced countless activists who have fought relentlessly for democracy and human dignity. He was ordained as a monk, and subsequently served as a parish priest in the Northern Philippines. As a former academic, he also became rector of the Catholic seminary in Isabela, Philippines. In his late 60's he still serves the Church by being rector of an Isabela shrine, even as he pursues his literary career as a poet of liberation. His poetry (under a pen name) has been published by Philippine periodicals and anthologized in a number of publications like Dr. Gimeno H. Abad's A Habit of Shores (UP Press).

These poems form part of the National Poetry Month celebration. His use of the appurtenances and circumstances around the Passion of Christ is an ingenuous and original manner of presenting the Christian perspectve of the Jesus Story. His use of the "basin", "the pillars", the "streets" , the "crown of thorns" and the tomb's "rock" are powerful metaphors for this venerable and abiding Christian ritual. Albano's poetry will be remembered, no doubt, by this Catholic content---vis-a-vis those of Belloc, Chesterton, Manley-Hopkins, et al, who have contributed their art as Christendom's claim to universal art.

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